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Potter v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.

Supreme Court of California
863 P.2d 795 (1993)


Facts

Firestone (defendant) only disposed of its toxic substances in “Class I” landfills, which were authorized to accept hazardous waste. Due to increased costs, Firestone changed this policy and began disposing of its toxic waste in “Class II” landfills, which prohibited hazardous substances because of the risk of groundwater contamination. Groundwater near these Class II landfills became contaminated by carcinogens. The Potters (plaintiffs) ingested this water and brought a negligent infliction of emotional distress against Firestone. The Potters did not exhibit any present physical injuries, but claimed that their fear of developing cancer in the future was actionable. Despite being unable to prove that they were more than likely to develop cancer, the Potters received a large damage award from the jury. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment and Firestone appealed to the Supreme Court of California.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Baxter, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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